Guys Singing

I thought about naming this post Guys Belting, but figured that might be misconstrued.

There is something about men singing that thrills me, that sends currents of electricity crackling through my limbs, a frisson of delight. From my earliest moments I was raised with the sound of guys singing. Though my dad’s income was scant, there was an abundance of books and music in our home. In the chapel of my childhood, we split hymns, e.g. everyone on verses 1 and 2, men only verse 3, women verse 4, all on the last verse.  The men’s verse was always my favorite. There was a potent oomph, a deep well, a pleasing sound when they sang.

Two (among a thousand) things I love about my church: 1) there are no silent men when we sing. Male participation is universal. 2) The guys sing like they have testosterone in them. It is glorious. 

Random guy-singing memories:

• Hearing my seven year old sing as he washed the dishes

• My four brothers singing in a spontaneous quartet at the 1996 Harper reunion.

• Loving the way Garrison Keillor sings. His voice isn’t excellent, but he puts himself into the singing.

• The sound of singing in the shower

• My brother (who sings in the opera) practicing with the volume UP in the garage when he visits us.

• Watching teen-aged boys playing frisbee on the lawn after church, singing as they play

• Hearing my son(s) sing to his baby

• Listening to my grandson sing Come Thou Fount

Another grandson singing You Are My Sunshine

• My husband singing his seventh grade fight song at a dinner party a few years ago

• Puddling up whenever my brother (pictured above) sings Children of the Heavenly Father

Yesterday, a friend said that her husband likes to belt out How Can I Keep from Singing? My estimation of him jumped up five notches. I like guys that belt it out.

I long to live in a culture, like South Africa or Wales or Estonia, where singing is so deeply woven into daily life, that folks find it impossible not to sing. Can you imagine waiting in line (subway, Costco, at school) with strangers, and everyone joining in a song? Our headphones/ear buds keep us isolated. [Aside: this is why I loathe personal DVDs in the car.] Singing connects us in a powerful way. Aren’t the best times at a party when everyone sings along to the music?

The first man in my life, my dad, was a man who sang. It is he who taught me, by example, how magnificent it is to hear a man sing. If I were evaluating a potential husband, he would be, among other things, a guy who holds babies, a guy who appreciates poetry, a guy who reads, and a guy who sings.

Thank you, Dad.

JWH, October 3, 1922 – February 14, 1987

I need your help. I’m collecting a list of (clean) movies that have a group of guys singing. I thought of The Hunt for Red October, O Brother, Where Art Thou and How Green Was My Valley. The singing in the trailer for The Hobbit gave me goosebumps. Can you recommend others?  Do you have memories of guys singing?




8 thoughts on “Guys Singing

  1. Hear, hear!  I adore men singing, and in my music classes for high school and junior high homeschoolers, I make it a point to include robust manly singing as often as I possibly can.  I want those boys to know that singing is not for sissies.  A movie that features lots of men singing lots of times is The Quiet Man.  Also, one of my very favorite CD’s is John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers’ Sprig of Time.  The men of CS know how to belt as well as how to sing gently and tenderly.  Two favorite tunes for belting are The Miller of Dee and Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of Wassail, Wassail All Over the Town.  They give me goosebumps everytime!

  2. You are so right….there is something thrilling about hearing men sing.One recent memory ~ Standing next to my brother at my daughter’s high school graduation, I was able to hear him sing our school hymn. I thought “Man, he has a really good voice!”  

  3. Oh you know I love to hear men sing!  Joel’s voice is changing, no longer an amazing soprano, he’s trying out the tenor section, but maybe, just maybe, the Tolly clan may have a baritone or bass coming up….   I was sad to have the girls leave, because they sang ALL THE TIME.  But, I didn’t realize how much the boys sang.  And, though the numbers are down, I am still treated to daily concerts.I’m glad we all sing.  My oldest aptly applies singing to all situations, and that makes me glad.

  4. @magistramater – I also love men singing. Ladyhawke has a little bit of somemonks singing that I love. I think there is some good singing at the end ofHenry V (with Kenneth Branaugh) also.I love Welsh male choirs and grew up listening to them andstill listen to them.Of course, I also grew up listening to men (and everyoneelse) in Africa, singing all the time. Early in the mornings, little boysperched on top of widely scattered anthills beat their drums and sang to scarebirds away from the maize fields. A truck overloaded with more than a hundredpeople would drive down the road, with all the passengers singing joyfully and withbeautiful harmony. Women hoeing in their fields with babies on their backs sangtogether, joining in from field to field. Men working at any task at all sangtogether. Men walking down the road would sing, and anyone within earshotjoined in. In church there was always a men’s choir, a women’s choir, and ajoint choir. A church of fifty singing Africans sounds like at least threehundred Americans. I think it’s tragic that radios and CD players have all butstolen away that musical tradition.

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